Alicia Warren knew from a young age her father was her stepdad, but she didn’t seek out her biological father until she was 10. Her mother, Betty Blakey, provided the two personal details she remembered: his name was Peter Goldstein, and he lived in Los Angeles.
Some 34 years earlier, while stationed in the U.S. Navy on Guam, Blakey met Goldstein at a bar. The two had a paradise fling before Blakey realized she was pregnant.
“My mom was stationed in Guam, and he lived in Los Angeles, so they both told me there was no reason to keep in contact,” Warren said.
Still, the lack of a biological father — and the support of his family — didn’t make Warren’s questions about her father any less curious. After leaving Guam when she was a year old, she followed her mother’s military deployments, living in different cities in Japan, Virginia and Missouri.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a terrible life, but as I grew older, my stepdad was not the nicest person,” Warren said. “Once the relationship with my ex-stepdad unraveled, I became more interested in (finding my biological father).”
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Every time Warren thought about reaching out to her potential father, she shot down the idea, and as she aged, she didn’t want to interact with the long list of Peter Goldsteins on Facebook.
“Peter Goldstein, Los Angeles, there’s a zillion of them. I was finding a needle in a haystack,” Warren said.
Left: Peter Goldstein on his father’s shoulder. Right: Alicia Warren as a newborn.
Fun Christmas gift
It was last Christmas when Goldstein’s wife, Camille, gave him a present she considered fun — a test kit from 23andMe, a genomics company that offers analysis of DNA samples, including information on ancestry.
To Goldstein’s amazement, the report showed he had a DNA match of 50% with Warren — more than enough, according to genetic rules, to prove a blood connection and the right amount to suggest some degree of a parent-child relationship.
Camille searched Warren’s picture on Facebook and immediately told him “that’s your child,” Warren said.
This March, Warren learned through the grapevine that Goldstein might be her biological father and reached out.
“When I signed up for 23andMe in 2018, I knew there was a possibility I would never find him, or he could be deceased,” Warren said.
Warren was getting her hair done and having a terrible day when her hairdresser told her that a friend had found a long-lost sister on 23andMe. That night, she checked her website account.
A notification showed that her DNA matched Goldstein’s. She decided to reach out, curious to know what he was feeling. “Even when I sent the first message to him on 23andMe, I fully was prepared for rejection,” Warren said.
Peter and Camille Goldstein with Alicia Warren meeting for the first time in June 2020.
Shortly after, Goldstein responded happily. He was shocked nobody had reached out to him in 34 years.
“It’s not his fault he didn’t get the opportunity to raise me. He’s shown that had he known, he would have stepped up fast,” Warren said.
“He told me that if I wouldn’t have reached out to him first, he probably wouldn’t have reached out to me,” Warren said.
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“That was his decision, but the second I saw the results, I knew it was never an option for me,” Warren said.
Even Warren’s mother, who lives in Missouri and has yet to meet Goldstein, encouraged her to meet him.
“I’ve considered every possible ending there could be,” Warren said.
Peter Goldstein and Alicia Warren in Hermosa Beach, California on July 25, 2020. This was the weekend before she met her newest sisters (Goldstein’s daughters).
Talking for the first time
The plot thickened in March, though, when Goldstein and his wife told Warren they were traveling to Salt Lake City, where she recently moved. The Goldsteins already made vacation plans to Utah, even before they knew of Warren’s existence.
“It makes me wonder if I hadn’t moved to Salt Lake City if all of this would be occurring,” Warren said.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit and an earthquake shut down Salt Lake City. The meetup was canceled.
“We bonded over text message, phone call, and FaceTime,” Warren said.
Soon they were talking regularly, sometimes over text, sometimes over the phone. And in June, the Goldsteins planned another trip to Salt Lake City — this time, to meet Warren.
Alicia Warren and Peter Goldstein grab drinks and dinner on June 6, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Meeting in person
Warren drove to the airport to greet them but arrived late, by accident.
“When I got out of the car, it was so exciting. It was like picking somebody up I’ve known forever,” Warren said.
They gave each other a hug and looked at each other. There was no mistake they were father and daughter — the eyes, the skin, the way they smiled.
Several members of Goldstein’s family who helped connect the father and daughter, including Camille, were eager to hear about her.
“I literally don’t think I could ever ask for a better bonus mom,” Warren said.
Even some 600 miles apart, Warren and the Goldsteins continue to talk. Since they last met, they have toggled back and forth between Utah and California, traveling to each other’s homes.
“If the opportunity to move to California arises, I would jump on that to be closer,” Warren said. “Right now, I don’t have any expectations except to grow the relationship in a positive way,” Warren said.
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She has other travel plans, too. One day, after the pandemic ends, she wants to visit her birthplace on Guam.
“I’d love to get a feel for what Peter and my mom got to experience,” Warren said. “All I’ve heard is that it’s beautiful and paradise.”